Introducing the Trinity: Central Mystery of Faith

Jesus Christ Course

Document # TX001185

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Introduction to the Trinity
• What is monotheism?
– the belief in and worship of only one God – began with the Covenant between God and Abraham – grew through Abraham, Sarah, and their descendants

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Introduction to the Trinity
We share our belief in this one God—and our commitment to monotheism—with Judaism and Islam.

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Introduction to the Trinity
• Catholic Christians pray ―in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.‖ This may lead some to think that Catholics worship three gods, not one. • Catholics have always affirmed the truth that God is one. • ―I believe in one God‖ (Nicene Creed).

Introduction to the Trinity
• What is the Trinity?
– comes from the Latin trinus, meaning ―threefold‖ – refers to the central mystery of the Christian faith – mystery—God exists as a communion of three distinct and interrelated Divine Persons:

Introduction to the Trinity
• The Holy Trinity is a unique and defining trait of Christian faith. • The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Trinity is the Church’s ―most fundamental and essential teaching‖ (234) and the central mystery of our faith, which only God can fully reveal to us.

Introduction to the Trinity
• What is a mystery?
– A mystery is something that is beyond human understanding. – In theological terms, a mystery is a specific doctrine (teaching) revealed by God that is beyond full human understanding.

Introduction to the Trinity
• What do the mysteries of our faith require?
– Trust and faith

• Trust: confidence in someone or something • Faith: belief in and loyalty to God

Introduction to the Trinity
Many images and analogies throughout our Church’s history have tried to bring clarity to this mystery of faith.
– According to legend, Saint Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. How does the shamrock represent the Trinity?

© 2009 Saint Mary’s Press/Illustration by Vicki Shuck

Introduction to the Trinity
Many images and analogies throughout our Church’s history have tried to bring clarity to this mystery of faith.
– Artists throughout time have attempted to explain the mystery of the Trinity. How does this painting by the artist El Greco explain the Trinity?
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Introduction to the Trinity
Many images and analogies throughout our Church’s history have tried to bring clarity to this mystery of faith.
– How can you explain the Trinity with three intersecting circles?

Introduction to the Trinity
• The concept of the Holy Trinity is also expressed in the Scriptures.
– ―Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit‖ (Matthew 28:19). – ―The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the holy Spirit be with all of you‖ (2 Corinthians 13:13).

Introduction to the Trinity
• The doctrine of the Trinity is part of Sacred Tradition. The doctrine was clarified and taught by several of the early Church councils.
– First Council of Nicaea (AD 325)—adopted the original Nicene Creed to explain that Jesus is truly God – First Council of Constantinople (AD 381)—revised the Nicene Creed to assert the Holy Spirit’s divinity and place in the Trinity. This Creed is the one we know today. – Council of Ephesus (AD 431)—reaffirmed the Nicene Creed’s teaching that Jesus Christ is both human and divine in one nature – Council of Chalcedon (AD 451)—reasserted the full divinity and full humanity of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity

Introduction to the Trinity • The doctrine of the Trinity
– distinguishes Christianity from other monotheistic religions – unifies mainstream Christians

Introduction to the Trinity
With every prayer we pray and every sacrament we celebrate, we act in the name of this Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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